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Re: Is the CompactFlash (CF) card necessary for legacy Superdome GSP?

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Trusted Contributor

Is the CompactFlash (CF) card necessary for legacy Superdome GSP?

Hi there,


I'm wondering if anyone knows, or can find documentation, on whether or not it's necessary to have a CompactFlash card installed in the GSP of a legacy Superdome in order for the GSP to work properly? Due to security policies, we have to handle this card as "writable removable media," which is a hassle, so if we can simply get rid of it that'd be a win.


Based on what I've read so far, it seems like it may not actually be necessary, since if you put the switch on the GSP board to the "clear" position, it will not attempt to save the complex profile to the CF card as it will when the switch is in the "Save" position, and that when a virgin GSP is installed in an existing complex it will get the complex profile from the cells, rather than the CF card, anyway.


If I'm understanding everything correctly, it seems the only time it would use the CF card would be if you put it into a system with no valid complex on the GSP or any of the cells.


Thanks for any information you can offer!

Trusted Contributor

Re: Is the CompactFlash (CF) card necessary for legacy Superdome GSP?

Turns out I was able to get a window for testing this morning, and the GSP refused to boot without the CF card installed. So that answers that question.


Now I need to know if a blank CF card will satisfy it, or if it needs something installed on the card ahead of time, like a firmware file or some such.

Trusted Contributor

Re: Is the CompactFlash (CF) card necessary for legacy Superdome GSP?

I figured this one out.


I was able to scrounge up an antique PC with a CompactFlash reader, and an unclassified GSP flash card for some experimentation.


In order to replace a GSP's CF card, you need a bit-for-bit image of an original Superdome GSP flash card, which includes the VxWorks BOOTROM.SYS file and the DOS Master Boot Record. The Flash drive also contains the following files in a FAT16 filesystem:


* SUBFLASH - the GSP firmware that comes in the PF_CSFW0009 package.

* EVENT.DIC - the chassis code dictionary

* PARAMS - the configuration parameters for the GSP, including encoded passwords


The SUBFLASH file is derived from the gsp.7.34.frm file found in the firmware release package - the .frm file includes a 1,088-byte FWUU header,and you can strip that out with the following:


dd if=gsp.7.34.frm of=SUBFLASH_734 bs=1 count=1088


It's better, though, to change the GSP firmware through FWUU with your SMS rather than replacing the SUBFLASH file on the card.


The BOOTROM.SYS is a standard VxWorks environment created by the "VXSYS" command in WindRiver's "Tornado" product: http://www.aoc.nrao.edu/~kryan/vxworks-in-flash.html


I used Windows "ImageUSB" software for the imaging procedure: http://download.cnet.com/ImageUSB/3000-2192_4-75338329.html


This creates a bit-for-bit image of the CompactFlash device, including the master boot record directing the computer to the bootrom.sys file. The original flash card I used was an 8MB from an old Superdome, so it created an 8MB image file.


You can also use the "dd" command, as long as you're certain to get the entire device, rather than just the partition. I used the CentOS LiveDVD to boot a Linux system on the old PC, and the flash card showed up as /dev/sdc1 for the automounted the FAT filesystem. To get the MBR too, I used the /dev/sdc device, not /dev/sdc1:


centos-livedvd# dd if=/dev/sdc of=/tmp/gspflash.bin bs=512


When you write the image to a new card, it creates an identical layout to the original, meaning that when you write it onto a 16MB flash drive, it only ends up with 8MB of filesystem, just like the original. This doesn't make any difference to the GSP.


However, writing the 8MB image to a 256MB flash card didn't allow the GSP to boot. This may have something to do with the ATA interface to the flash card, and the cylinder, head, and sector numbering - the GSP documentation specifies only up to 64MB CF cards. A 16MB flash card worked just fine when the 8MB image was written to it.


With this unclassified GSP flash card image in hand, I can now sanitize all classified data (including GSP passwords) from a Superdome without having to replace the entire GSP board - HP does not sell the GSP CF card separately.